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Felix throws from flat ground, to throw bullpen Monday

ST. LOUIS -- Felix Hernandez threw a flat-ground session in the outfield at Busch Stadium without problems before Friday's series opener with the Cardinals and the Mariners will now have him throw a bullpen session Monday in Detroit as he works his way back from a minor oblique muscle strain in his left side.

Hernandez threw under the watchful eye of pitching coach Carl Willis as manager Eric Wedge was conducting his pregame media session with reporters.

"Once I talk to Carl and see how it looked today, then we'll go from there," Wedge said. "If it went well, then we'll get him [throwing] off the mound and go from there. But let's see today goes first."

Once reports were positive, the Mariners said Hernandez could start Wednesday in Detroit if all goes well now in Monday's bullpen workout.

Hernandez hasn't pitched since Sept. 2 in Kansas City, when he felt some tightness in his lower back in the seventh inning of a 3-1 loss to the Royals.

He initially was scheduled to start again on Sunday, then had that delayed until Wednesday before his start was canceled completely after continuing to feel some stiffness in his side during a light throwing session.

The Mariners only have 15 games remaining after Friday's series opener against the Cardinals and have been clear that they wouldn't push Hernandez's return unless he's completely healthy.

The 27-year-old has thrown 194 1/3 innings to date, going 12-9 with a 3.01 ERA in 29 starts with 41 walks and 200 strikeouts. He's pitched 200-plus innings each of the last five years and this is the fifth straight season he's notched at least 200 strikeouts.

Going into Friday's games, Hernandez was still tied for fourth in the American League in strikeouts and tied for sixth in innings pitched.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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